A part that plays a huge role in developing the final and most important point is the title, “Sonny’s Blues”. The title seems to have two meanings behind it, kind of like the basis of the story, which has more than one meaning, but one specific meaning that sticks out. The title is significant, and helps the reader understand the meaning of the story. The first and most obvious meaning is the story is talking about “Sonny’s Blues”, meaning the music he plays; furthermore, the second meaning seems to refer to his life, his feelings, his style, his mood, and his swagger. All of this is very important in determining what the true underlining meaning of the story is.
“Sonny’s Blues”, on first examination you would think that the story is sad, somber, crying out, but through further examination the story seems to be quite the opposite. The story starts in desperation because the main character, Sonny, is a drug addict, who is desperately clinging to life, but through his music he finds hope.
Many factors in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin play a part in the main premises of the story. It is hard to understand the real point of the story if gone through only once, but a second reading may help the reader figure out what the author is trying to get across. Maybe there are many meanings that the author has come up with, maybe there is just one, or maybe it is for the reader to decide what is real in the story and what is secondary.
Some points that I believe are secondary, but still very important is the fact that Sonny is a recovering heroin addict. Sonny also has a love for music, the Blues, and can
play the piano pricelessly. Another secondary point is that Sonny’s and the narrator’s mom and dad are dead. Also deeper, but still secondary is the fact that Sonny and his dad are just alike, which his likeness might have been brought out by the fact that Sonny’s father’s brother was killed on a dark road by a couple of drunks. These are all important factors that develop the main point, which is that Sonny finds hope in a rather despairing situation.
Another important part of the story is that the narrator shares his daughter’s death. It is not talked about a lot through out the story, but nevertheless it is still very important along with the other deaths in the story, because it shows another despairing situation in the story. There is also the death of Sonny’s and the narrator’s mom and dad, the death of Sonny’s father’s brother, and the near death of Sonny. These points are all very important and are all connected to the desperation of Sonny.
As you can see there are many difficult factors that plague the characters in the story, but there is still another factor that is the main point. Through all these hardships and the sad somber music of the blues you feel a sort of dreary feeling throughout the story. This mood continues throughout the story until the very end, where the mood of the story is turned around, and what was once despairing now seems to spread new light on an otherwise hopeless situation.
Hope is finally surfaced when Sonny takes his brother to a nightclub in downtown Harlem. His brother is a little hesitant, but is willing to follow his brother, because he feels that it is necessary to either strengthen their relationship and to figure out what type of person his brother has become. Sonny takes his brother to a Blues club almost to show
him that he is a different person than he used to know or that he might have thought. Sonny’s brother thought to himself while being introduced to everyone in the nightclub that, “Yet it was clear that, for them, I was only Sonny’s brother. Here I was in Sonny’s world. Or rather: his kingdom. Here, it was not even a question that his veins bore royal blood” (244). This seems a little odd, because throughout the story the narrator seemed to question Sonny when Sonny was telling him that he wanted to be a musician. The narrator believed that, “his music seemed to be merely an excuse for the life he led” (237). This lack of hope and misjudgment all disappeared when Sonny’s brother heard him play. He says, “He had made it his:” speaking of the piano, “that long line of which we knew only Mama and Daddy. And he was giving it back, as everything must be given back, so that, passing through death, it can live forever.” (246) Sonny’s brother saw a new person, new hope, that was ignited by his fluent and swift ease of mastering and owning the piano, and making every note come alive.
Through all of this drama and misfortune, and for lack of a better word hopelessness, hope is raised through a character that seemed to be without hope and without life. There were also many deaths in the book, which brought about hopelessness, but the mood of the story was changed from a recovering heroin addict that brought hope to the other characters in the story. His near death is another key to show hope, because he did not die, he prevailed through a tough city to do what he loved, no matter who denied him the right or did not believe in him. So the main point of the story is not death but life, it is not a story without hope, but a story that encourages hope, and encourages strengthereHe . It shows that there is light in dark places, but it is up to the personto not give up and follow their dreams no matter what anybody says, because who knows you better than yourself. This story should not be misinterpreted as a story about death, or a story about a heroin addict, or even a story just based upon music, these are just secondary parts of the story that recognize and strengthen the primary point of the story, which is hope.
Return to Main